LATEST UPDATE: The Independent publishes Ed Kessler's 'A-Z of Believing: Q is for Quietness'

Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter

The course always gives me hope that dialogue and bridge building are possible through education and learning. Professor Akbar Ahmed (Co-leader, Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter & Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC)


**APPLY NOW** for course commencing 14 January 2019

Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter is a unique educational opportunity brought to life by the collaborative efforts of Dr Edward Kessler and Professor Akbar Ahmed. The Woolf Institute and the School of International Service at the American University in Washington jointly run this course.

Despite their closeness in belief and practice, today, Jewish-Muslim interactions are often the source of intense religious conflict. This course will explore the history, culture and theology of Muslims and Jews, reflecting both on similarities and differences as well as discussing the major challenges.

Assisted by leading experts and early career scholars in Europe and the US, the course will also offer strategies for building bridges between the communities. While there has been notable interfaith activity in Europe and the United States in recent decades, the Jewish-Muslim dialogue and understanding are far from satisfactorily developed.

Too often, there is neither space, nor indeed the necessary trust, which are prerequisites to the proper understanding of the two faiths. Experience has shown that when subjects like the Israeli-Palestinian relationship or Antisemitism and Islamophobia are discussed, the dialogue too often becomes embittered or breaks down.

Because this course is committed to the highest levels of scholarly integrity, it will provide a space for the discussion of the entire range, in the broadest sense, of the Jewish-Muslim encounter which does not preclude even the most controversial issues between them.

The course is accessed via Hedwig (Moodle) which is hosted by the Cambridge Theological Federation.

Course structure

Each week, you will watch a 20-minute pre-recorded lecture, receive set readings and prepare various assignments online. Woolf Institute and American University tutors will support you and provide feedback throughout the course. Alongside fellow participants, you will be able to discuss ideas on the online discussion forum. You will also be expected to write two essays and a book review.

Following an online Induction Week, the course is divided into three modules:

Module 1: Islam and Muslim Perceptions of the 'Other'

Week 1: Qur'anic Teaching and Muslim Perceptions of the People of the Book
Week 2: Religious Others in Modern Islamic Thought
Week 3: Palestine in Muslim Consciousness
Week 4: Islam in America: The History and Organisational Structure of Islam in America

Module 2: Judaism and Jewish Perceptions of the 'Other'

Week 1: Biblical and Rabbinic Texts
Week 2: Israel and Zionism
Week 3: Dialogue and the 'Other'
Week 4: Judaism in America - The History and Organisational Structure of Judaism in America

Module 3: Muslim-Jewish Encounters

Week 1: Historical Dimensions of the Muslim-Jewish Encounter
Week 2: The World of Commerce and Trade
Week 3: Islamophobia and Antisemitism
Week 4: The Sounds of Sacred Space: Jewish-Muslim Relations in the Middle East
Week 5: Gender Perspectives on Jewish-Muslim Relations
Week 6: Muslim-Jewish Relations in America

Course timetable

Induction Week: 14-20 January 2019

Islam and Muslim Perceptions of the 'Other': 21 January - 17 February 2019
– Tutors: Akbar Ahmed, Mohammad Shomali and Amine El Yousfi

Judaism and Jewish Perceptions of the 'Other': 18 February - 17 March 2019
– Tutors: Edward Kessler, Rabbi M Bruce Lustig

Muslim-Jewish Encounters: 18 March - 28 April 2019
– Tutors: Esther-Miriam Wagner, Dunya Habash, Julian Hargreaves, Lea Taragin-Zeller and Akbar Ahmed

Application details

Applications for 2019 are now open. The application deadline is 16 December 2018 for the course commencing 14 January 2019.

Download the application form here.

Bursaries are available. To apply for a bursary, please complete the relevant section on the application where applicants can explain their circumstances and need for financial support.

Before submitting your application, please read the Booking Terms and Conditions and Refund Policy.

The fee is £465 which includes online access to the course and the course materials, tutor feedback, and a Woolf Institute Certificate of Completion.

For further information, contact Emma Harris: